A molecular trap inside microtubules probes luminal access by soluble proteins

Yuta Nihongaki, Hideaki T. Matsubayashi, Takanari Inoue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The uniquely hollow structure of microtubules (MTs) confers characteristic mechanical and biological properties. Although most regulatory processes take place at the outer surface, molecular events inside MTs, such as α-tubulin acetylation, also play a critical role. However, how regulatory proteins reach the site of action remains obscure. To assess luminal accessibility, we first identified luminally positioned residues of β-tubulin that can be fused to a protein of interest. We then developed a chemically inducible technique with which cytosolic proteins can be rapidly trapped at the lumen of intact MTs in cells. A luminal trapping assay revealed that soluble proteins of moderate size can enter the lumen via diffusion through openings at the MT ends and sides. Additionally, proteins forming a complex with tubulins can be incorporated to the lumen through the plus ends. Our approach may not only illuminate this understudied territory, but may also help understand its roles in MT-mediated functions. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)888-895
Number of pages8
JournalNature Chemical Biology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Aug
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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